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ET Project \ Podcasts

ET-077: Overcoming hurdles, finding purpose: John Leister’s journey to creative fulfillment

With Mr. John Leister

ET-077: A conversation with Mr. John Leister

and your host Wayne Brown on December 12, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Mr. John Leister

Hello and welcome to the ET Project. I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and as usual, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET.

Today we’re heading to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to chat with this week’s guest who is a prolific creative fiction writer in his spare time, Mr. John Leister. And I mentioned spare time intentionally as John works full time as a security guard, yet incredibly, has managed in the space of just four years to publish in excess of 100 books.

So let me do the maths for you. That’s 25 books a year, one book every two weeks. And aside from writing, John does the entire process himself from design, artwork, editing, as well as publishing. So I think you’ll agree when I say that by any standards, this is phenomenal, and naturally you’ll hear us unpacking more on this during our conversation.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

I gave up on my creative acting. And I’ve just… You know like I said I’ve been a security guard for 35 years and it’s still my bread-and-butter job. But I always knew in my heart, mind, and soul that I was meant to do something creative. And looking back now, I realize that it’s always been writing. It’s been writing from the get-go. And I could have started publishing these books, years and years ago, but I didn’t because I didn’t have the mindset. I mean I did have the mindset, ’cause I was reading all these self-help books. I was reading Awake… You know what is Anthony Robbins? Do you know him? Awaken the Giant Within and Unlimited Power and Deepak Chopra and all these… You know I was trying to fill my head. With as much positivity as I could, I would make these baby steps here and there, like one step forward, two steps back. Like I would join a gym or I did kickboxing for a couple of years in the early 2000s…

Today’s Guest: MR. JOHN LEISTER

According to John, his journey before 2019 and the current writing blitz was much less fulfilling. Suffering from cirrhosis, overweight, addicted to sugar, lethargic, and spending way too much time on the couch, led him to hit an emotional rock bottom. And despite reading a raft of self-help books, John’s real turning point came after he reached out to God. And as they say, the rest is history.

Today, John’s active, healthy and nearing 40 years working in security. He’s very active on Facebook. Not sure when he finds the time to read other writers or engage in social media, but somehow he does it. So Team ET, I think you get the idea by now that whatever you set your heart, mind, and gut to, can be manifested into your behavior. And this continues to be the case for John.

Final words from John:

And what I’ve learned since 2019 is, again, I’m repeating myself now, but what I’ve learned is how much… There’s a difference between happiness and pleasure. I mean, this is something that Anthony Robbins has been talking about for years and years. There’s a huge gap between the two. What makes me happy is creating, again, reaching out to people like yourself who are fellow bliss manifesters and being around that positive energy. And okay, here’s something maybe that’s a little different that I haven’t already said. I’ve discovered that I have very little patience for people who kind of wanna put me in a straight jacket. I mean, here’s an example. I had someone once say to me, don’t talk. I was in a social setting, and this guy that I’m very close to, said to me, don’t talk about your books.

Like, I never wanna be around. I’ve minimized my contact. This is the same guy who told me acting was a waste of time when we were young. So I shouldn’t have been surprised. But some people, they’re not evil people necessarily. They might have their contributions to make, but they’re not visionaries. They can’t see beyond the end of their noses. I think they’re very practically-minded people, which is great in some ways, but they seem to think, well, if you’re working hard at something and there isn’t a guarantee down the road that isn’t gonna make you a big pile of cash, then it’s a waste of time. And of course, that’s their philosophy, and it works for them, but it’s not mine. And I find it’s very hard for the two to coexist in the same room…

0:00:00.0 Speaker 1: Hello, I’m your host Wayne Brown and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. And today we’re heading to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to chat with this week’s guest who is a prolific creative fiction writer in his spare time, Mr. John Leister. And I mentioned spare time intentionally as John works full time as a security guard, yet incredibly, has managed in the space of just four years to publish in excess of 100 books. So let me do the math for you. That’s 25 books a year, one book every two weeks. And aside from writing, John does the entire process himself from design, artwork, editing, as well as publishing. So I think you’ll agree when I say that by any standards, this is phenomenal, and naturally you’ll hear us unpacking more on this during our conversation. According to John, his journey prior to 2019 and the current writing blitz was much less fulfilling.

0:01:11.3 Speaker 1: Suffering from cirrhosis, overweight, addicted to sugar, lethargic and spending way too much time on the couch, led him to hitting an emotional rock bottom. And despite reading a raft of self-help books, John’s real turning point came after he reached out to God. And as they say, the rest is history. Today, John’s active, healthy and nearing 40 years working in security. He’s very active on Facebook. Not sure when he finds the time to read other writers or engage in social media, but somehow he does it. So Team ET, I think you get the idea by now that whatever you set your heart, mind and gut to, can be manifested into your behavior. And this continues to be the case for John. So, Let’s now get this conversation underway with our guest, Mr. John Leister, as we learn more about what is achieved and how you too can secure your dream.

[music]

0:02:09.8 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:02:23.4 S1: Hello, welcome, Team ET, to this yet another week, and let’s welcome our guest, fictional writer John Leister, to the show. Hello John. Welcome to the ET Project.

0:02:38.1 Speaker 3: Hi Wayne. Thank you so much for having me as your guest. It’s a great honor and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Cheers.

0:02:45.3 S1: Thank you. The first question I had for you was, what do you do on Christmas time? How do you spend your time? You’re in Vancouver. What does Christmas look like for John?

0:02:56.6 Speaker 3: This is a very cold answer. I’m usually working on Christmas Day, and I’m all too happy to work Christmas Day because it’s double time and a half.

0:03:06.8 S3: It’s always. So for me Christmas time is a big payday. Now, in a more ideal world, look, I would love to be married and have kids and the Christmas tree and watch the kids. I would absolutely trade that reality for that hypothetical fantasy. But basically that’s how I spend my Christmas pretty much. And I have a few friends that I might see before Christmas Day, but I try to work on the statutory holidays. How about yourself, are you married with kids?

0:03:34.9 S1: Yes. Yeah. Wife and a daughter.

0:03:37.4 S3: Well, I envy you. I have yet to ring that bell.

0:03:42.4 S1: Well. Very good. So what about sport? Do you play? Do you follow sport? Are you an ice hockey fan?

0:03:48.5 S3: No. Nothing. You know I have nothing but love and respect for athletes and the amazing things that they can do. But I’ve never really had any interest in sports, which has been kind of a cross to bear for me as a child because I’m Canadian. And if you’re a Canadian boy and you’re not a hockey fan, you know some people will not accept you. They really… It’s like the scarlet letter. They just… They don’t like it. You know Shakespeare, what’s that line? This above all to thine own self be true. That’s great in theory but in practice, it can be a bit of a bear. When I was a boy I loved comic books and movies and then as I got older novels, I’ve always loved stories. Now, I used to play tennis. I used to be a very avid tennis player. I always been into racket sports. I guess if I had… I guess I would tend to lean more towards individual sports over team sport. I can’t watch five minutes of a football game or a hockey game. It’s just… I’m not emotionally invested. The puck goes in one net or the puck goes in the other net. I don’t… It just doesn’t mean anything to me. And I’m not critical. Again, other people are into it. You know, different strokes. So I’m just not as… I was into UFC for a while. I’ve always liked martial arts. And so I was watching UFC for a few years, but even then I hit a saturation point. I just had enough. I like movies about sports. I watch like Rocky.

0:05:12.1 S3: You know the Rockies maybe at times. But no I’m just… I just didn’t come to this world with that gene. How about yourself?

0:05:18.2 S1: Opposite I would say. So, I’m very heavily involved in sports in my younger years. Not so much now of course, too gray for the sport, but I don’t watch it a lot. I’m more of a reader, these days.

0:05:36.2 S3: Yeah same here.

0:05:37.7 S1: Et cetera. Yeah. Yeah, so…

0:05:38.2 S3: I’m glad that I’m not a sports fan. Because if I was a sports fan, I’d be watching all these games and I’d be spending less time writing.

0:05:46.4 S1: Exactly. So during your childhood, was the writing something that you were doing? Like did you start writing as a child? When did that start?

0:05:58.9 S3: Yes, but I would say that I was doing a lot more drawing. I was really into comic books and I had it in my mind’s eye when I was a boy that I was going to be a comic book artist. And I drew every day for three or four hours. And I don’t know what happened. I guess I was a little too extroverted back then I guess I decided that I wanted to hang out with my friends, which I regret a little bit because I was pretty good at drawing. But, when I graduated high school, I actually tried acting for a couple of years. There was a show from the 1960s called The Big Valley. Do you know that show was a Western, an American Western? And one of the stars of that show, Peter Breck, he came to Vancouver and he started an acting school called the Breck Academy. And I walked past this acting school one day. I don’t know, I was 21, 22 years old. My life wasn’t really going anywhere, and so I walked in, a little beholden I signed for acting classes. And I loved acting out and I was… To answer your question I was doing some writing back then too in fact when I was going to auditions. I didn’t get the part but the casting director would say to me, “I’ve never heard that monologue before,” and I said, “Well it’s because I wrote it,” and they always seem to be impressed by that. You know maybe they’re just being nice.

0:07:01.4 S3: I was an extra in Rocky 4, the big fight at the end was shot in Vancouver so I got to Sylvester Stallone and Ivan Drago duke down the ring, but again getting back to the psoriasis which I’ve always had. I’ve always had very, very dry skin. To any of your listeners who don’t know what that is, it’s basically some of our bodies generate much more skin than would be considered normal. So we wind up with these red and white scaly patches all over our bodies. Well, when I got to like 24, 25 years old, I mean I was just… My mindset was not very positive as a young man. My half glass of water had a tendency to be half empty. And I just stressed out, you know everything was drama. And I just in my mind, I was just… Everything was an apocalypse and my diet was horrible like I said I’m a recovering junk food junkie. And so I just… I would go to auditions like I don’t mean to gross out your listeners but like literally pieces of skin were falling off my face in front of the camera. That’s how bad it was. So…

0:07:54.8 S1: Wow.

0:07:55.4 S3: I gave up on my creative acting. And I’ve just… You know like I said I’ve been a security guard for 35 years and it’s still my bread and butter job. But I always knew in my heart, mind and soul that I was meant to do something creative. And looking back now, I realize that it’s always been writing. It’s been writing from the get go. And I could have started publishing these books, years and years ago, but I didn’t because I didn’t have the mindset. I mean I did have the mindset, ’cause I was reading all these self-help books. I was reading Awake… You know what is Anthony Robbins? Do you know him? Awaken the Giant Within and Unlimited Power and Deepak Chopra and all these… You know I was trying to fill my head. With as much positivity as I could and I would make these little baby steps here and there, like one step forward, two steps back. Like I would join a gym or I did kickboxing for a couple of years in the early 2000s.

0:08:44.0 S3: Or like I said, I took acting classes, but the cirrhosis and my feelings of low self-esteem and just dwelling on the past I just was… You know some of us get caught into our routines, and sometimes it takes something to very specific for us to break free of whatever chains that we’ve created for ourselves. And for me, as I said earlier, it was loneliness. I was just spending too much time by myself. And I discovered that just sitting on my couch every night and watching all these DVDs and the special features, the audio commentaries and the deleted scenes and all that stuff, it just hit a saturation point. And my message to the world is better late than never. And so my life has changed very dramatically since 2019. Like I said I went to Australia. I never imagined before 2019 that I would ever leave Canada or that I would have a passport. I’m going back early next year. And so, look I had a conversation with this woman on Facebook one day, and she looked at my Indigo page and she was very complimentary. She said, I had a look at your books, and you’ve really put out quite a lot over the last four years. She said she was 87. She’s been a pharmacist her whole life. But what she really wanted to be was an author. And so I wrote her back Herman Wouk, who’s one of my apps, is one of the greatest novelists of all time. He wrote his last book when he was 100 years old. We have to live our lives in the present. We really have no choice if we want to manifest.

0:10:13.9 S3: As soon as we start thinking about the past, we lose power like a video game character. Or when we think about the future, maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s human nature to some degree. We tend to worry. It’s easier for people I feel, you may disagree with this, but it’s easier for people to imagine all the things that can go wrong in our lives instead of imagining all the amazing directions our lives can take if we just have the guts to take those steps. And again, The key thing is to recognize in advance that it’s not going to be easy. Like I said there are going to be obstacles and that it’s okay. It’s a part of the journey. The most important question that any human being can ask themselves, in my opinion, is this. Am I enjoying the journey of my life? Never mind the destination because we’re all going to the same place. All our destinations are exactly the same. That’s it. We’re done. It could be today. It could be 10 years from now. All our power is right here in the here and now. And this is the way that I try to live my life. And this is why I’m reaching out to nice people like yourself. And if I’m still a security guard 10 years from now, if I’m lucky enough to still be alive 10 years from now, I’m still going to be doing this. And I’m still going to be writing because it’s my bliss.

0:11:26.9 S1: Right. So you mentioned the transition into writing. I’m wondering, was there a trigger that really, you can recall a trigger that led you to start putting that pen to paper.

0:11:43.3 S3: Well, it’s something that I did sporadically as a younger man, but as I said, once I published that first book that I had no idea, I thought maybe I would do like two or three more and that might be the end of it and then I’ll just spend the rest of my life marketing. Like I wrote it up. My first novel plug plug plug. My first novel is called The Tree House Avengers. And it’s very autobiographical story. It’s separate from the Lee Atkins. And I remember thinking, well, maybe this is it. Maybe I’ll just write the one novel and then try to get it try to get it you know mass media, try to get it made into a movie or TV series or reaching out to people. But then the whole idea of putting pen to paper for me, I’ve discovered over the last four years, is as natural to me as eating, sleeping, and breathing. I don’t mean to sound too cocky about this I’m just and I don’t claim to be good at it. I just know that I can do it. This is another important life lesson I feel.

0:12:37.2 S3: I don’t have to will myself to do it. When you’re doing something, but for the sake of its own joy that it’s giving you, that’s all the proof you need that you need to do it. Whether it’s writing or you’re doing a podcast or if you want to become a neurosurgeon, whatever it is that you want to do with your life. All you need to go by is the feeling it gives you. Here’s an example. I tried stand-up comedy. There’s a bar a couple blocks from here, and they dared open mic, and I tried stand-up comedy four times. And I was excited. Gosh, I can’t believe I never thought about this before. I can do this, ’cause like you said, after I reached out to God, I had all these wild ideas. I tried… I also have a podcast, but I have my own podcast called The Johnny’s Way Podcast. And so I tried stand-up comedy. I did it four times. I got very few laughs and I discovered that it wasn’t a good fit for me. I discovered that it’s not my mission statement to make people laugh every five minutes. And I remember when I did that fourth time and I was walking home and I was bummed out I was feeling depressed. I was thinking, here we go again. Is this another example of me quitting when it’s not what I expect it to be. And I realized that it wasn’t. I tried it out. It wasn’t a good fit for me. And I moved on. There’s a huge difference between that and quitting because something gets too hard, right?

0:13:53.0 S1: Yeah. Kudos to you. Kudos.

0:13:58.5 S3: If it was hard for me to take pen and paper, then I wouldn’t do it. It’s a natural extension of who I am. It’s what I was meant to do with my life.

0:14:04.4 S1: Yeah, fantastic.

0:14:08.3 S3: Thank you.

0:14:08.4 S1: Let’s get into the books a little bit. So, what is the genre that you write?

0:14:13.6 S3: Oh, okay. Primarily, I’m writing detective stories. When I was a younger man, do you know Robert B. Parker? He was a very prolific mystery writer. You know Spencer? Spencer, right?

0:14:24.6 S1: Yeah.

0:14:25.0 S3: So I read those books back in the day. And Spencer is a very… He’s a hard drinker and a man’s man, but he’s got a heart of gold, he’s a rugged, rugged, tough guy, but he’s very compassionate and caring and sensitive and charming and funny. And I read those books back in the day. And Robert B. Parker wrote from a first-person narrative. And I remember thinking, gosh I think I can do this. I don’t know if I could do it as well, a scintilla of a millimeter as well. But again, I could picture myself doing it so, I grew up reading so many comic books and I always loved the superhero genre. But… And I actually wrote a superhero trilogy called Morning Stars Night which I’m very proud of, but I discovered as I was writing… I said, “You know this is not really what I wanna do I wanna write stories about real people with real… I don’t wanna explain like why someone can fly and have superpowers and all that stuff”. I love that stuff as a fan, but I discovered that as a writer, same with science fiction, I wrote a two-part science fiction series called The Red Star, Taking of Red Star One, books one and two. I’m super proud of those books. I think they turned out really well.

0:15:28.0 S3: Of course, I’m biased, like parents are biased about their children. But, I discovered that writing science fiction was kind of a chore, because you have to explain everything. You have to know how the ships are able to travel through space and how the weapons work and what life is like in the future. I was like, “Oh this is kind of drudgery”. I wanna write about real people. So the thing about the detective genre, that appeals to me as a writer. Well, Lee is basically me. He is my avatar, he is an idealized much cooler, much handsomer and much braver, much wittier version of myself. Which is something that I think a lot of writers do I’ll bet that’s what Ian Fleming did when he created James Bond or Tom Clancy when he created Jack Ryan, it’s a wish fulfillment And also for me as a writer, I find writing to be very therapeutic. When I wrote Treehouse Avengers, it was a lot about my childhood and my father and his temper and his abusive nature, I would say borderline sociopathic nature. I don’t mean to throw him under the bus because he’s not here to defend himself. I know he loved me and I know he’d be super proud of me where he alive today, but he just was a very, very sensitive guy. You could say hello to him and it might set him on.

0:16:46.7 S3: Like he just… There was a loose wire. And so writing that book for me was very therapeutic. It was a kind of purging. And I think that’s what writers are doing a lot of the time. We’re creating worlds that make sense to us. I think that’s what Gene Roddenberry did when he created Star Trek back in the day. Or Sherwood Schwartz when he created the Brady Bunch. And those are the kinds of stories that I like. I like stories where the main character is someone that I look up to. That’s why I like superhero stories so much. Because as a kid, I would read a Superman comic book. And I think, well, gosh, why can’t the world be like this? Never mind these muddy waters, and on the other hand, and moral relativism, and all this nonsense. Why can’t life be black and white? That did… You know… Again, it’s a wish fulfillment. So for me, the detective genre, is kind of a bottomless well of stories, because I just keep coming up with new ideas for it. I mean they’re new for me. I wrote one called The Righteous and The Kind of Damned. Where it ended with Lee, the flight crew of the plane that he’s on, as he’s traveling from Vancouver back to New York is murdered, by a Quebecois terrorist. And so Lee has to land the plane, okay? Now, that’s been done a million times before. But it was something new for Lee.

0:18:04.4 S3: And as I was writing it. I got super excited. And that to me, that’s the joy of writing. It’s… The way I write is very improvisational. I’m not really big on jazz music. But I understand that a lot of jazz music has an improvisational quality. I’ve been on other podcasts that were hosted by writers, and a lot of them, they plot everything out in advance. They have these cards, this happens, and then this. I can’t write that way. To me, that would take all the fun out of writing. I start with a very general idea. Lee goes to prison. Why? He’s a good guy, so he’s been framed. Who framed him and why? It’s just a seed of an idea, and then I’m off and running. And again, when I think back on the first 30 years of my life, spending so much time watching these DVDs and reading novels and movies and TV shows, now I’m just kind of regurgitating all this stuff back out, but it’s through my own filter. And I never worry about being unoriginal. I would never stake any claim as to the originality of my stories. What makes them originals is that they come from me. And I’ve heard people say this. I’d love to write a book, but I don’t have any original ideas. Are you kidding me? Nothing original out there. Everything is is similar to something that’s come before. Before Batman there was the Phantom, right?

0:19:21.6 S1: Yeah.

0:19:21.9 S3: And before the Phantom there was Zorro. And before Zorro, there’s Robin Hood, and it goes all the way back to David versus Goliath, right? Once you pick up that pen. But once you start typing away on your keyboard, boom, that’s what gives it its originality. ‘Cause all of us as individuals, we all have unique experiences. We all have at least one story to tell that the other person like can’t believe. ‘Cause truth is strange than fiction. And we all encounter all kinds of unique and wild eccentric people in our lives. So I’m just spitting all that stuff back out. And I’m able to structure the story in a way that then has a beginning, middle, and end.

0:20:01.0 S3: So, I have like over a 100 of these, these Lee Hacklyns now, and there’s a little bit of crossover here and there, but they’re mostly self-contained. That’s why if you look at my IndiGo page, they all say number one, right? That was a mistake. But looking back was a happy mistake because if I wrote Lee Hacklyn number 37, I wouldn’t want my hypothetical readership. And like I said, I really don’t have very much readership to start with right now. But let’s say down the road, I wouldn’t want anyone to think, oh, I have to read the first 36. No, no, no, no, no. These are, most of my stories have a beginning, middle, and end. And I like to think that I’m good at, and I like to think that I’m good at creating characters that the reader can identify with.

0:20:42.5 S3: And that’s why you look at Peanuts and Archie and all these, these superhero stories that, that they keep, they’re popular with each new generation, right? There’s a reason for that because they’re relatable. We all know a kid like Charlie Brown, right? Or we see ourselves in Charlie Brown, right? And that is the key to me, story is not as important as character. You can write the most cliched story that everyone’s seen a million… Look at Karate Kid, right? Or Titanic. I mean, Titanic is about a rich girl who’s engaged to a rich jerk and she falls in love with a rich boy like James Cameron did not invent that story. And I’m saying this with love and respect to James Cameron. I have a fan of his and I love Titanic. But if the audience or the readers are, if they can relate to the character, then they will take that journey with that character. And I like to think that I’m good at that so far it’s pretty much just me who thinks that way. But, you know, one is better than none.

0:21:34.4 S1: So what, what I’m really interested in here, John, is you’ve now got more than 100 published books and you’ve been writing for I guess four years. So…

0:21:45.2 S3: That’s right.

0:21:46.2 S1: That’s an incredible number. That’s an incredible number of books in such a short period, right? I mean, I’ve written two books myself over that same period of time. Two books, not over a 100. So there’s so much that goes into the book, not just the writing. There’s the artwork, there’s the editing, there’s the publishing. How do you manage all of that?

0:22:13.2 S3: This is a one man enterprise, right? I’m doing everything by myself. I would love to have an editor. I would love to have someone vet all of my books and any inconsistencies, which I’m sure there are tons or grammatical errors. But I also feel that the imperfections are a part, it’s art. Artists create art. It’s not science. Right?

0:22:33.6 S1: Right.

0:22:34.6 S3: I feel that the imperfections. You can spend 25 years trying to write one book and have it be absolutely perfect. No, no, no, no. I think that’s completely bananas. Just get it out there and I guarantee you that your favorite movie, whatever your favorite movie hat is, has flaws. You go on a website, you type in your favorite Movie Bloopers. There’ll be a whole list, like a mile long that you never notice. And you watch the movie again and suddenly you notice them. But you didn’t care before that because you just enjoyed it so much.

0:23:01.9 S3: So as far as artwork goes it’s only been over the last year or so that I discovered a website called PosterMyWall. It’s free, it’s super easy to use. And that’s how I designed my book covers. And sometimes I looked at the image, like I saw an image of a nuclear bomb, like a mushroom cloud. And I thought, oh, there’s a nuclear bomb in New York City, and Lee has 24 hours to find it. That became a army get down and boogie. Right. And as far as editing goes, yeah, I mean, I would love to have someone look at my… I mean, I sent someone I emailed someone one of my books and she read it and she wrote a nice, kind a response, but she’s like, whoa, you really need someone to proofread your stuff.

0:23:48.7 S3: Because she pointed out. And I was like, you look guilty as charged. I work 40 hours a week. My job is very physically demanding. I lift weights three times a week. It’s, this is a one man enterprise. And so I have it in my mind’s eye that at some point I will have maybe a staff I would love to have a staff to help me with the podcast. So I don’t miss a podcast like I did the other day with yourself or to look at my books and say. Hey, you have something in chapter one that doesn’t add up to what happened in chapter nine. But you know what, Wayne? I’ve read a million novels and some of my favorite novels have inconsistencies. I remember reading a spy thriller, I won’t say the name of the author ’cause he passed away, but there was a spy whose code name was London. Okay.

0:24:37.2 S3: You turn the page, his code name is England. And I remember I was flipping the page back, I was going back and forth. Well, did they change the code name? Like, did, am I missing something here? It’s like, no, it’s a mistake. It’s a mistake. That’s art. You don’t wanna have too many, right? ’cause there’s a tipping point, right, where it’s like, oh, you might lose the reader. But at the end of the day, I like to think that my stories are emotionally satisfying. I mean, that’s how I feel about them. I try to add a little bit of everything. There’s mystery, sometimes there’s romance for Lee, very little sexuality, I discovered that I’m not interested. I think, Lee, there’s, I have like one sex scene in all of my Lee Hacklyns ’cause I discovered the writing. That stuff is incredibly boring. He touched her hair, she touched him. They’re like, Ugh. I know. I was like.

0:25:28.1 S3: Not interested in that at all. What I’m interested in mainly is character dynamics. I know I love the way Lee, like, here’s an example. I wrote a character who has Haphephobia. Do you know what that is? That’s fear of being touched.

0:25:43.8 S1: Okay.

0:25:44.3 S3: So Lee, has a lot of fun with this guy. Initially he’s like poking him and he’s like, what would you do if you saw a school bus full of kids and it was on fire? You wouldn’t go there and rescue them, right? ‘Cause you have fear of being touched. And so Lee is mocking him throughout the story, but then towards the end of the story, he reveals that he was sexually abused as a boy. And that’s why his Haphephobia. So of course, Lee’s attitude is like, oh geez, well, I’m not a mind reader. So again, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that he was sexually abused until towards the end of the book. Like very often, I don’t even know who the killer is.

0:26:15.0 S3: I wrote one book called Judgment Days, which is about a serial killer of judges. And spoiler warning, Lee is married in that one. He has a son. And of course the son and the son and his wife were kidnapped by the villain and leaves off, leaves off in his car to rescue them. I still didn’t know who the killer was. Like, that’s the way that I write. And then I went to chapter one. It’s like, oh, it’s this guy. And it made sense and I didn’t have to change anything. But just to answer your question, it’s like, it, yeah, I’m doing everything by myself.

0:26:42.8 S3: And if I didn’t have to work, if I was better at saving money, you know, if I had a huge, a pile of cash that I could live off for a couple of years and just do this, it would be great. But I’m doing the best that I can and I’m manifesting my dreams 1000% more than what I was doing before 2019. This is what I was meant to do with my life. Every time I open my notebook, I can’t get the word down fast enough. You know, I can’t fix a car. I can’t shingle a roof. There’s a, I can’t throw a ball. If I threw a ball, it would land behind me. This is what I can do. And I think Dirk Diggler, I think Mark Wahlberg said it best in Boogie Nights.

0:27:21.1 S3: He said, everybody’s good at everybody has one thing. You know, some people have many, many things, right? Really all you need is one. And at all your listeners out there, if you feel like that you’re not good at anything, and I know, I absolutely know how that feels, then just go with what you like. Right? Like, what do you like? Okay. Do you like baseball then do a podcast about baseball, right? Put your take advantage. I can’t believe that every, everybody should have a podcast. Even if it’s just like once a month. You know, you could talk about politics, you talk about your favorite movie, whatever. What? I can’t believe more and more people of our generation ’cause you, I’m probably older than you are. I don’t know, I’m 58. I don’t know how old you are, that more and more people don’t take advantage of this technology.

0:28:04.1 S3: I took a picture of myself, holding a book of an author named Mike Maden. And Mike, is one of the writers of the, of the Jack Ryan series. He took over the reigns of the Jack Ryan series after Tom Clancy passed away. And I told him about my group page Johnny’s Way. Well, guess what? He joined? This guy’s a bestselling author and he joined my Facebook group page. Like, this is the world that we’re living in. I think it’s a golden age. Nevermind COVID and all the nuttiness and madness of the world. As far as I’m concerned, this is a golden age of opportunity for people like myself who are late bloomers.

0:28:37.8 S1: Very good. So you’ve, you’ve mentioned your main character, which is Lee Hacklyn. He’s a private investigator, but you also have another, prominent character, The Urban Tiger. So where did he grow from?

0:28:51.3 S3: Okay. When I hear other people say the names of my characters, it just, it gives me a feeling. It just gives me such a feeling of my solar plexus of joy. Okay. The Urban Tiger is a 15-year-old boy named, Tommy Rider. And have you seen the movie Kick Ass about the Boy who wants to be a superhero? He doesn’t have powers or anything like that. Do you know that movie?

0:29:13.3 S1: I don’t, no.

0:29:14.8 S3: Okay. It’s, anyway, it was based on a comic book. And I remember when I saw the comic book, it broke my heart. ‘Cause I had the same idea for so many years about a boy, a teenage boy who’s a got, he wants to be a good Samaritan, right? He doesn’t have superpowers, nothing like that. He just, he reads comic books and he says, Hey, I’d like to do that. Like, you know how superheroes always have a very dramatic motivation to do what they do, right? Like Superman comes to earth to redeem humanity. Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered when he was a boy, right? What if a kid just decided to do it? ‘Cause he wants to be a good Samaritan. So I said, you know what? I wanna do this. I wrote a short, I wrote a Lee Hacklyn short story called The Urban Tiger, where he introduced that character.

0:29:55.8 S3: And what happens is Lee is chasing after a mugger, and this kid pops out of nowhere and he is wearing a mask, and he’s got the UT on his T-shirt, like drawn on with a felt pen or something. And he beats up the mugger and he hands the victim, her purse back, and Lee takes him to a McDonald’s and buys him a hamburger and is like, Hey kid, what are you doing? You know, you’re gonna get yourself killed, killed. Like, stop doing this. And, and I discovered, you know what? I really like this kid. And so that, so I decided to write a series of books, called The Urban Tiger. He has a sister named Molly Ryder, of course. She’s The Urban Tigress. And they go out once or twice a month. They run around Times Square by trying to help people.

0:30:31.9 S3: And they just run into some really… And also created a kind of a spinoff series called Lee Hacklyn and Urban Tiger, where they team up. I’ve written a few of those and they have a kind of a big brother, little brother, type of relationship. But I think I’ve written the final chapter on that series for the time being. I wrote about, I think there’s 19 or so, they’re a little bit more serialized because the kids are getting older, and I think they were like 25 or 26 in the last one. I said, you know what? I put these kids through one hardship after another. I just want them to have a happy ending. I actually wrote, I wrote a scene where one of the one of Tommy’s friends, Mark Dixon, is paralyzed.

0:31:11.9 S3: I had him shot and he was gonna be paralyzed. That’s the, you become emotionally attached to your characters. They’re like your family. They’re like your children. And I discovered that I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it. So I think I’m done with that series, but, that’s another one. And then I wrote another trilogy called, training Montages, which is about an ex-convict who’s on parole. And he was meant to be a heavyweight champion of the world, but, he killed a guy. But his condition is that he can’t box if he does, if he boxes in any way, shape, or form, could be sent back to prison. So it’s a bit, that one is a bit like Karate Kid Meets Good Fellows Meets Rocky. That’s a trilogy. And then, I also wrote.

0:31:53.0 S3: I’m working on the book that I’m working on right now is called the fearless the wicked and the righteous which is a bit like treehouse avengers about a young man during the 1970s who grows up a small town who wants to be a comic book artist so you know I don’t when I get I just start with a general idea and I’m off and running and as I said earlier the taking of red star one books one and two is basically the hunt for Red October meets Star Trek which I can’t believe nobody’s done. I remember I actually Googled that to see if I would get a hit and I didn’t. And that really comes from watching that movie back in the day and thinking, God, gosh, this is great, but wouldn’t it be cooler if it was a spaceship that everybody was chasing after instead of a submarine? That’s what writers are doing a lot of the time. They’re just asking, what if?

0:32:38.0 S1: Yeah. Yeah.

0:32:39.5 S3: And then you just put it down. Put your brain down on that laptop and put it out there. And if everyone thinks, and I always tell myself this, if I knew in advance that everybody in the world thought I was the world’s worst writer or that I had no talent whatsoever, I would still do it. I absolutely would still do it, because there’s nothing more satisfying in life I feel and again this is just my opinion I’m not dogmatic about this stuff there’s nothing more satisfying than the act of creation the feeling of that you left something behind that at least theoretically barring an asteroid that might last forever and ever it might be a table that you built with your bare hands or in your case you procreate it but you left something behind so that so that you know that your life meant something And we need to have purpose in our lives in order for our lives to have meaning. So before 2019, my purpose in life was really just to keep myself afloat keep my head above the water. And I was satisfied with that ’cause I just didn’t believe in myself.

0:33:44.1 S1: So what are your aspirations for writing and the future? Like you’re looking forward. To eventually win some sort of literary award, bestseller, perhaps, to play the lead. A number of greats won movies or something?

0:34:03.3 S3: I wouldn’t complain if I won an award. But no, the bell that I want to ring, as I said earlier, is I want to see these characters in other formats. There are comic book artists. I’ve reached out to a lot of comic book artists ’cause I would love to do graphic novel. I would love to collaborate. With an artist on a graphic, like an Urban Tiger graphic novel, I, oh gosh, boy, oh boy, that would be, that would be like winning the lottery. I never mind winning the lottery. That would be the real life lottery for me. But I want to have a conversation with a young, handsome actor and say, Brad, I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is you’re going to die someday. The good news is you’re Lee Hacklyn. You’re going to have to grow your hair. You’re going to have to feather it back, right? You’re going to have to like ’70s music, right? That’s the bell that I want to ring. And that’s why I’m doing these podcasts. Well, look, I’m doing these, I’m doing these podcasts again. I love hanging out with fellow people who believe in themselves as much as I do. Right. I also want to inspire other people who are late bloomers like myself, but it’s also about self-promotion. Like I said, I want to connect with that one person who can make a Lee Hacklyn streaming series happen or an Urban Tiger series.

0:34:04.8 S3: I absolutely have faith that my stories like winning awards and all that stuff, probably not, but I like to think at the bare minimum that they’re not boring. I have to imagine that all of us have seen a movie before, That was made by super talented people. It cost $300 million. And you look at the movie that you paid to see. And you thought, gosh, I could go home tonight and I could write a screenplay about my last argument with my wife or my spouse. And it would be more interesting than this CG gonzo fest that I just wasted my money on I’m sure all of us feel that way sometimes but not all of us will actually do it and that’s another reason why I’m writing ’cause I look at movies today and look this I’m very few now I spend very little time watching movies now ’cause I’d rather create than just passively watch other people’s manifestations and I don’t mean to get on my high horse about this but I feel like a lot of filmmakers today, they’re just kind of woke and preachy. And like I saw The Last Jedi in the theater and I thought, gosh, this movie is fun to look at but it’s basically I feel like I’m looking at anti-male propaganda. Like I just feel like there’s a political agenda or there’s some sort of subversion going on. And that’s not what I’m writing. I’m writing the kinds of stories that I grew up watching as a kid, right?

0:36:37.4 S3: The morals in my stories I feel are very and they do have morals but they’re universal right they’re not based on a political they’re more philosophical I try to keep my stories philosophical ’cause I… Or if I if I do get into a hot button issue like abortion I’ve touched on like just as an example I’ll try to be fair to both sides ’cause that’s not my at the end of the day all I’m trying to do is entertain and so I feel like I’m filling a void that is out there. And I’m sure that there are other writers out there who are doing the same thing. Again, we’re just creating worlds that we want to see in other formats. So that look, look at JK Rowling. She started Harry Potter. She just scribbled some notes on a paper napkin as the story goes. Right. And that’s the bell that I want to ring. And creating also, creating an industry. If you’re creating jobs for other people, you’re creating opportunities for other people who are also have that creative spirit. So that’s winning, like I said, winning an award. Yeah, it would be wonderful. I’d be absolutely, the Edgar Allan Poe award goes to John Leister. Okay. Yeah. Thank you. That’s very nice. But really what I want is, okay, here’s what I want.

0:37:53.1 S3: I’m trying to nail this down. I want my creativity to be my main source of income. That’s my ultimate goal. I don’t think about being super wealthy. I’m not materialistic. I don’t mean to sound pious or anything like that. But my main source of income now is the service industry. And I like my job. I enjoy the people that I work with. It’s very physically demanding and I like it. I’m on the journey, I’m on this journey, and if it doesn’t happen for me at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because at least I’m going for it. At least I’m trying and having fun along the way. Again, I don’t have to will myself to do it. The only thing that I don’t like about myself right now is I feel like I sleep more than I need to. When I get up in the morning, I snooze, snooze, snooze. I need to stop doing that because life is too short. And so anyway, that’s my story in a nutshell. And I’m sorry that I gabbed so much.

0:38:49.9 S1: Not a problem John.

0:38:51.4 S3: I will tell you the thing about your…

0:38:54.6 S1: What lessons have you learned along the way on that journey that you think would be useful Sharing with the listeners?

0:39:04.1 S3: I don’t know what else I can add that I haven’t already said. What I didn’t realize before 2019 again, is how much more fun my life is now versus the way that I was living, before 2019, where I was spending so much time on the couch. I thought I was having fun then, like I said, this little moment of, yeah, I’d have little moments of clarity like, Hey, what are you doing? You’re wasting your life. But if you’re living your life like a drug addict, which I was, I mean, I wasn’t breaking into people’s cars to support my quote unquote “habit of junk food and DVDs” but when you put all your eggs in one basket, what you’re doing is you’re selling your soul. You’re trading your soul for instant gratification.

0:39:46.3 S3: And what I’ve learned since 2019 is, again, I’m repeating myself now, but what I’ve learned is that how much… There’s a difference between happiness and pleasure. I mean, this is something that Anthony Robbins has been talking about for years and years. There’s a huge gap between the two. What makes me happy is creating, again, reaching out to people like yourself who are fellow bliss manifesters and being around that positive energy. And okay, here’s something maybe that’s a little different that I haven’t already said. I’ve discovered that I really have very little patience for people who kind of wanna put me in a straight jacket. I mean, here’s an example. I had someone once say to me, don’t talk. I was in a social setting, and this guy that I’m very close to, he said to me, don’t talk about your books.

0:40:34.3 S3: Like, I never wanna be around. I’ve really minimalized my contact. This is the same guy that told me acting is a waste of time when we were young. So I shouldn’t have been surprised. But some people, they’re not evil people necessarily. They might have their own contributions to make, but they’re not visionaries. They can’t see beyond the end of their own noses. I think they’re very practically minded people, which is great in some ways, but they seem to think, well, if you’re working hard at something and there isn’t a guarantee down the road that isn’t gonna make you big pile of cash, then it’s a waste of time. And of course, that’s their philosophy, and it works for them, but it’s not mine. And I find it’s very hard for the two to coexist in the same room.

0:41:15.0 S3: So I’ve discovered that I don’t need to… I love hearing about other people’s success stories. I love hearing about other people or just, or if they’re just starting out, Hey, I just started writing a book last night. That’s great. Congratulations. Like, I never wanna feel that I am constricted or restricted in some way, in any social setting. Now, work’s different when I’m at work, I’m expected to play the role that I’m expected to play. So I allow for that, because it pays for my rent, right?

0:41:42.3 S3: I have to do that. But outside of work, I just wanna be me. I just wanna be myself like Popeye. I am what I am, and I want people around me like yourself to feel that they can be themselves, and that they’re not gonna be criticized, they’re not gonna be judged, they’re just gonna be accepted. And that we’re all rooting for each other and inspiring each other, to live our lives the way that we’re meant to live our lives and to not procrastinate.

0:42:08.3 S1: So John, you are very active on, Facebook, as you mentioned, Johnny’s Way, I think it’s called. Where is the best place for listeners to go to follow, to connect?

0:42:19.1 S3: Well, I mean, that’s basically it. My group pages called Johnny’s Way over 700 members on my IndiGo page. If you type, if you go to Indigo.ca and type in John Leister, you can look at all my books. They’re all excerpted, excerpted. Easy for me to say excerpted. But I’ve done this before, time permitting. If anyone is interested in any of my books or short stories, I would be more than happy to email it to them. I’ve done this a few times, and I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback from people. My email is johnleister, J-O-H-N L-E-I-S-T-E-R, small letters 611@hotmail.com. And as I said, time permitting, if anyone is interested, I would be more than willing, to email, look, I wanna make money doing this. I absolutely, it’s my goal to be a professional writer of creative fiction. This is what I want. But I also wanna share, and as I said earlier, when I saw that Mickey Spillane comment on Facebook. Like, holy moly, I mean, the feeling that gives me, you can’t put a price on that. It’d be nice to have the best of both worlds, but I’ll take one over none.

0:43:25.8 S1: Yeah.

0:43:27.1 S3: So that’s basically it. If you go to YouTube and if you type in John Leister author, I’ve been a guest on a few other podcasts, and it’s mostly the same stuff.

0:43:37.6 S1: Okay.

0:43:38.1 S3: So that’s basically it. And yeah, I love hearing feedback from people and fellow writers or anybody who’s thinking about doing what I’m doing. If they want some advice, I’ll be happy to give it to them. I was on another podcast and the host said to me that he took a 12 week course on self-publishing. And I was like, what? No, no, no, no. You just do it. You just go on the darn website and you register. It takes all of five minutes, and you get your USB stick, and you plug it in and you upload your book. And again, like I said earlier, I recommend Draft2Digital. I’ve never had any hiccups with them. It took me all of five minutes to post my other than adding, you have to set up the banking information that takes a little bit of time. But every time I uploaded a book, to Draft2Digital, it takes all of five minutes. And look, I have something now. I have a legacy. I have something now that I can point to and feel really good about. And that’s why I had these feelings of self-confidence now that I didn’t have before. Everyone out there, please follow your bliss, because at a certain point it is too late. Our lives are fragile. Our lives are finite, but you can Norman Lear, he’s the creator of all in the Family. He’s in his 90s, he’s still working in television. Right?

0:44:52.5 S1: Right.

0:44:53.1 S3: How many stories have we heard about people who retired and then they passed away like two, three years later? Right? I mean, I remember hearing those stories more so as a younger man, because I think now fewer and fewer people are retiring. ‘Cause why would you retire, when you retire then you’re turning your back just for a life of leisure. It’d be like, be Adam and Eve. It’ll be fun for a little while, but it’d be like a vacation that goes on for too long. We need to have purpose. And so that’s my story in a nutshell. Thank you.

0:45:22.3 S1: Well, John Leister it’s been an absolute pleasure. You’re extremely passionate, that’s clear about what you’re doing and your ball of energy. Thanks for being a guest on the ET project. Much appreciated.

0:45:36.1 S3: Thanks for having me.

[music]

0:45:38.4 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs at coaching4companies.com

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